American English idioms and expressions

Browse phrases beginning with: Willy-nilly What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Willy-nilly’? This term has two, slightly differing, but related meanings: We tend to use the latter of these meanings today; the former was the accepted meaning when the term was first coined. What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Willy-nilly’? There are many spellings in early citations, which relate to the ‘with or against your will’ meaning of the phrase – ‘wille we, nelle we’, ‘will he, nill he’, ‘will I, nill I’, etc.

Meaning of Phrases

However, even some of the most well-educated individuals don’t always know how even the most familiar phrases popped into being. While not a comprehensive list by any definition, the following summaries explore some of the more popular English-language idioms. Be sure to click on the links for more detailed information. Under King George I, the real Riot Act was passed in , enforced a year later and read out loud in order to quell gatherings of subjects the throne considered potentially threatening.

Once concluded the “rioters” were given one hour to disperse before getting slapped with penal servitude and imprisonment sentences.

Informal French and French Slang Tutorial Learn to understand colloquial / familiar French, verlan, and swearing in French This informal French slang tutorial is designed to teach the real spoken form of French – which is very different from the formal way of writing – as well as common French slang words.

Captive audience People who are there specifically to hear you and no one else. People who are completely engrossed in what is being said. Very interested in the message, captivated by it. People who have no choice but to listen to or watch an entire presentation, as in a class, or traffic school, etc. Liking someone or something. Do you care for some coffee, they mean: Would you like to have some coffee? Taking care of someone or something. The carrot represents the reward, and the stick represents the threat.

She used the old carrot or stick trick with her son to get him to eat the spinach; Some ice cream tonight, or no ice cream for a week! Carrot on a stick. Some believe this has to do with mules: There are two ways to get a mule move forward. Dangle a carrot in front of it, or hit it in the back with a stick.

ESL worksheets indexed by language point

Contact Author The history and meaning of old proverbs and sayings. Because many of the adages are centuries old, some of the original references can be lost. These types of phrases can be especially confusing for a person trying to learn a new language as the subtleties in text and meaning may be hard to grasp. Here are some common proverbs, what we know about their origins, and what they most likely mean.

My database contains , words and phrases and they keep coming. One thing I’ve learnt – the more slang changes, to half-inch the well-known phrase, the more slang stays the same.

Then again, some things are just too good to be true. The majority of these tales are at least eight feet tall, but some are actually true! Rumor has it, this idiom relates to Ancient Roman public toilets. These toilets were very public: Sanitation was not a big deal and toilet paper was unheard of. Communal sticks wrapped in cloth were used to wipe up 2s. Is this the definitive origin? But, Lewis Carroll didn’t create this idiom.

Workers used a toxic substance called mercury nitrate in the process of turning fur into felt lining for hats. Prolonged exposure to the toxins caused many workers to hallucinate and tremble which was called hatter shakes.

Spanish Love/Romantic Phrases

I became fascinated by him when, some years ago, I read conclusive evidence that he had contributed massively to the King James Bible — 90 per cent of the New Testament as we know it was written by William Tyndale. As one of our contributors to the documentary said, had the King James Bible been published today he would have sued for plagiarism! By then, even to have known Tyndale let alone to have read his New Testament back in England was to make you liable to torture and often death by fire.

His story embraces an alliance with Anne Boleyn, an argument covering three quarters of a million words with Thomas More, who was so vile and excrementally vivid that it is difficult to read him even today. Tyndale was widely regarded as a man of great piety and equal courage and above all dedicated to, even obsessed with, the idea that the Bible, which for more than 1, years had reigned in Latin, should be accessible to the eyes and ears of his fellow countrymen in their own tongue.

English was his holy grail.

Every language and dialect involves its own complex system of idioms, metaphors and other bits of figurative language that oftentimes perplex non-native speakers.

To deceive someone so that they do or fall victim to something. We can set the machine to work on sorting the various packages. To frame someone; to make it look like someone is guilty of same crime or wrongdoing. Those drugs aren’t mine—someone is setting me up! To give someone the financial capital needed to start or maintain a business. If my father-in-law hadn’t set me up, I never would have been able to own my own store. To elect someone to or establish someone in a position of power, authority, or influence.

They set him up as their party’s presidential candidate. I think my bosses want to set me up as the new general manager. To provide someone with adequate nourishment. There’s a guy from work I’d really like to set you up with. I was skeptical when he said he’d set me up with his friend, but we actually had a wonderful evening together.

Advanced Vocabulary and Idioms

March 13, iStock William Shakespeare devised new words and countless plot tropes that still appear in everyday life. Famous quotes from his plays are easily recognizable; phrases like “To be or not to be,” “wherefore art thou, Romeo,” and “et tu, Brute? But an incredible number of lines from his plays have become so ingrained into modern vernacular that we no longer recognize them as lines from plays at all.

A collection of ESL, EFL downloadable, printable worksheets, practice exercises and activities to teach about idioms.

By Rachel Hanson M. French Some of the most popular sayings in French have made their way into the English language. While these phrases may not always be pronounced in the proper French manner, the spelling has most often stayed intact, and the meaning is the main reason for the phrases importation into English. The French loves of food, art, and philosophy have led to many French phrases finding their way into everday English language. The French phrase is the only one used in English.

Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup means: La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin, meaning: This is a typical French saying, and the French do enjoy consuming moderate amounts of good wine with their meals, noon and evening alike. In French this means ‘in style’; in English it refers to serving pie with ice cream on top Amuse-bouche: In English this means that the dish is topped with cheese, which is then melted in the oven Au jus: Meaning ‘the best of the best’, this phrase literally translates to: An appetizer; literal translation:

English Idioms and Proverbs

Ghost stories Chinaman’s chance Little or no chance at all; a completely hopeless prospect. This derogatory phrase originated in the s and referred to Chinese immigrants who worked for extremely low wages, faced racism and higher taxation, and were prohibited from testifying in court for violence committed against them. Primarily heard in US, South Africa. The town rose up fast and furiously as prospectors flooded the area in search of gold, but when the last of the precious minerals was gone, those same people were as fast to depart, leaving a creaking old ghost town in their wake.

7) They get hitched every ten years to renew their vows. 8) I’m not looking to get hitched soon or jump in a relationship like right now. 9) The straight religious people think that if gay people are allowed to get hitched in church then that will ruin things for the rest of us.

What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Shanks’ pony’? One’s legs, used as a means of transport. What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Shanks’ pony’? Shanks’ or shanks’s mare or nag or pony derives from the name of the lower part of the leg between the knee and ankle – the shank, nowadays more often known as the shin-bone or tibia. This was alluded to in the early form of this term – shank’s nag. This originated in Scotland in the 18th century. There are several early citations in Scottish literature, as here in Robert Fergusson’s Poems on Various Subjects, It was first referred to there in the s.

Clark, who managed the vehicle with considerable skill They are a toy, and will never come into general use in competition with Shank’s mare. One such horse-drawn mower had no seat and the driver had to walk behind it. Examples of these machines still exist and this would be a plausible theory albeit one lacking in any real evidence if it weren’t for the clear pre-dating of the Scottish references.

An alternative version of this allusory phrase is “the horse of ten toes”.

Vietnamese Slang and Idioms #2: “Leo cây” – A dating slang word